Archive for the ‘The Passion Of The Christ’ Category

7 Movies With Fantastically Strategic Release Dates

February 10, 2010

Currently, I feel sandwiched between two weekends that boast wisely placed movies on the box office calendar.  We’re hot on the heels of Dear John‘s fantastic debut, which was lifted by its brilliant counter-programmed Super Bowl release date, and this coming weekend, Valentine’s Day will surely find strong numbers, thanks to the fact that Sunday is Valentine’s Day.  What I want you to take away from this post is that release dates matter a lot.  The American public likes gimmicky release schedules, and when a movie’s title and/or release date give people an obvious choice of which movie to see, it often pays off in spades.  Thus, because it is List Wednesday, I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of the smartest release dates in recent history, all of which directly led to solid box office results. But that’s enough talking from me- go ahead and check out these seven movies with great release dates, and then let me know what movies you thought had great release dates in the comments!

The Omen (06/06/06)

A movie about the devil! 666! The devil’s number! WOW, that is just so clever! I have to go see this! Sadly, that really was the train of though for many moviegoers. Kudos to Fox for pumping up the release gimmick effectively.  The Omen opened to $12.6 million on a Tuesday (at the time, Fox boasted that they had achieved the best Tuesday opening ever… a dubious distinction) on its way to $54.5 million. Pretty good for a pretty bad horror flick.

Four Christmases (11/26/08)

I wish every Christmas movie would follow the model set by Four Christmases.  Open directly after Thanksgiving and plow through a month of solid box office results.  Four Christmases was just a silly romantic comedy, but it earned a great $118 million during its run.  I wonder how much bigger A Christmas Carol could have been if it had opened closer to, I dunno, Christmas!  (I warned you)

Independence Day (07/03/96)

In 1996, July 4th fell on a Thursday, so Fox wisely took the opportunity to open this Will Smith blockbuster on Wednesday the 3rd.  The result? $45 million in two days of ticket sales, followed by a tremendous $50.2 million weekend.  The July 4th weekend was officially signed over to Will Smith later that month.

The Devil Wears Prada (06/30/06)

Another case of counter programming at its finest. Back in 2006, The Devil Wears Prada decided to open directly against the ├╝ber-hyped Superman reboot.  Hoping to attract the disinterested female audience, Fox (who is proving they know how to release movies well) was bold to go head to head with the man of steel.  Many were sure that the fashion film would get lost in the shuffle, but Prada silenced the doubters, opening to a robust $27.5 million (vs. Superman‘s $52.5 million) on its way $124.7 million.

Saw and Saw II (10/29/04 and 10/28/05)

The one-two punch of the innovative Saw movies (in plot, not in gruesomeness) over Halloween weekend in 2004 ($18.3 million opening, $55 million total) and 2005 ($31.7 million opening, $87 million total) helped fortify a robust franchise for Lionsgate, which framed Saw III, IV, and V as the go-to event films of the next few Halloween weekends. Unfortunately for Lionsagate, Paranormal Activity stole all of Saw VI‘s thunder, and now, Saw 3D and Paranormal Activity 2 are both eyeing the lucrative Halloween weekend release date for this year.

The Passion Of The Christ (02/25/04)

Here’s a film whose opening weekend wasn’t the reason it blew up (controversy took care of that), but it placed the film in such a way that theater owners didn’t want to take it out of theaters for a good while.  Easter fell on April 11th that year, and every knew that a movie about Jesus would do well over that frame, which is why The Passion was still playing in 3,240 theaters during that, its seventh, weekend.  The film came in first place that weekend with $15 million, and then fell all the way down to tenth the very next, earning $4 million.  Newmarket wisely ensure Mel Gibson’s religious film would play in theaters for quite a while with their strategic release date.

50 First Dates (02/13/04)

Sony knew they had a solidly marketable romantic comedy with two widely appealing leads, and they probably knew it could perform solidly.  They took things to the next level, though, by releasing it over Valentine’s Day weekend, making it clear the choice for all couples.  After a good $10 million Friday, 50 First Dates shot way up $19.8 million on Valentine’s Day, a figure which accounted for almost half of the films $39.9 million debut, which set it up for a nice $120.9 million run.  Sony learned from their success and opened Hitch a few days before Valentine’s Day in 2005.  Hitch opened to $43 million before trucking along all the way to $179 million.

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7 Reasons To LIKE Mel Gibson

January 27, 2010

Lately, as I’ve been reading other movie blogs and even the comments on my recent posts, one of the trends I’ve noticed is that people really love to hate Mel Gibson.  The cool thing to do right now is to feel disgusted by the accomplished actor/director, and if you write about movies on the web, it seems as if you are almost obligated to approach Mel Gibson and his new movie, Edge Of Darkness, with a sense of dread.  Indeed, people just can’t understand why anyone would like Mel Gibson.  Well, I have a confession: I do.  He’s not my favorite star in the world, but the man has taken a lot of grief for his unfortunate DUI incident in 2006, in which allegations of anti-semitism, sexism, and homophobia were made.  Instead of forgiving Gibson for his unfortunate drunk actions the way America loves to forgive other celebrities, people have instead decided to hold a grudge.  Still, I believe there are things about Mel Gibson that, believe it or not, aren’t totally bad.  Thus, because it is List Wednesday, here are seven reasons to like Mel Gibson.

1. Because he’s actually a very good actor

Sure, he’s known for mainstream blockbusters like Lethal Weapon and Signs, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a talented actor! If being a serious actor means you have to be in serious movies, then take a look at films like We Were Soldiers, Galipoli, or Hamlet for proof that Gibson has got some serious chops.

2. The Passion Of The Christ

Say what you will about Gibson’s film: it’s anti-semitic, it’s too violent, it’s blah blah blah ad nauseum.  At the end of the day, The Passion was a compelling piece of work about Jesus Christ’s last hours.  It’s no surprise that critics didn’t like it!  Anything remotely conservative is considered pure evil in the eyes of Hollywood. Fortunately for Gibson, who invested $25 million of his own money into this movie, the rest of America is much more moderate, and for $370 million worth of ticket buyers, this was a very moving film.

3. Because he’s funny!

Mel has that old-school Hollywood charisma that so many movie stars lack these days.  Not only is he an effective dramatic actor, but in movies like Lethal Weapon and What Women Want, interviews, and acceptance speeches, Gibson proves he’s got a great sense of humor comic timing.

4. Braveheart

This movie is awesome.  If you’re a girl, and you just don’t get it- don’t worry about it.

5. Because he’s bold!

I think it’s admirable that Gibson takes chances.  He directed a movie about Jesus and funded it himself.  He shot a Mayan adventure entirely in another language.  He frequently commits to producing television episodes and films, despite the fact that TV is a highly hit-or-miss format.  Now, though conventional wisdom would tell Gibson to star in a friendly comedy to rebuild him image, he’s decided to make his comeback performance in a dark revenge thriller called Edge Of Darkness.  He’s not entirely predictable, and he knows his super-violent movies will ruffle some feathers, but he just keeps blazing his own career trek.  I think that’s pretty cool.

6. Apocalypto

This is one of my very favorite movies.  A non-stop thrill ride from start to finish, Apocalypto, which is really just an extended chase scene, benefited tremendously from Gibson’s vision.  The Mayan adventure features gorgeous sets, incredible stunts, a heckuva lot of violence, and a cast of very good unknown actors.  Gibson set out to make an exciting film that didn’t rely on CGI, and he succeeded on every level.  It’s a shame that Gibson’s infamous DUI took place just before Apocalypto‘s debut, because it deserved a much bigger audience.

7. Because everyone has overreacted!
Look, I don’t stand by the words that Mel Gibson said, and I certainly don’t condone drinking and driving, but come on, people, Mel Gibson is not an evil man.  You can’t work in Hollywood for as long as Gibson has and hate gay people and Jewish people- they run that town!  Ever since Gibson aligned himself with conservatives (and don’t misunderstand: Gibson is neither a model conservative or Christian) with The Passion Of The Christ, the liberal media has wanted to dislike him so badly.  Unfavorable reviews of Apocalypto had very little to do with the movie itself, and much more to do with the critic’s pre-conceived notion that he disliked the director.  Any slight incorrect speech Gibson makes or potentially rude action he takes is scrutinized to no end!  To the media, there’s nothing Mel Gibson can do right.  Meanwhile, Charlie Sheen tries to stab his wife, and he gets off with nothing more than a few tabloid articles.  A little consistency please?

All right, I’ll get down off my soap box now and turn things over to you.  What do you think of Mel Gibson?  Am I crazy for writing this post?  Are you a fan?  A hater?  An indifferent party?  Are you excited for Edge Of Darkness?  Let me know in the comments.